Podcast: FWAM Interview with Cuban Democracy Leader "Antunez"

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Did you miss this week's "From Washington al Mundo" interview with Cuban democracy leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" and Cuban pastors Mario Felix Lleonart, Yoaxi Marcheco and Omar Gude Perez?

Click here to listen to the podcast from Sirius-XM's Cristina Radio.

Caught on Tape: Arrest of Cuban Democracy Leader

Click on the video below to watch the Castro regime's arrest last week of Cuban labor activist and democracy leader, Ivan Hernandez Carrillo:

Cuba Recognizes it Violates (and Will Keep Violating) Human Rights

Friday, September 20, 2013
The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) concluded its Universal Periodic Review of Cuba today.

Of the recommendations made by the UNHRC, Cuba formally rejected 20 of them.

Among the recommendations formally rejected by the Castro regime were:

-- Guarantee a safe, free and independent environment for journalists and ensure that all cases of attacks against them are investigated by independent and impartial bodies.

-- Put an end to repression, investigate acts of repudiation and protect all persons who are the targets of intimidation or violence.

-- Liberate immediately and unconditionally all the prisoners held in  temporary detention or sentenced in connection with exercising their freedom of opinion and expression as well as freedom of assembly and association.

-- Take steps to protect and promote the freedom of expression and association of all peaceful defenders of human rights in the country.

-- Ensure that all living in Cuba can fully enjoy their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

-- Release Alan Gross and imprisoned journalists such as Jose Antonio Torres immediately.

-- Discontinue the limitations on civil society activities, including the short-term detention of political activists.

-- Refrain from the harassment, intimidation and arbitrary detention of human rights activities.

-- Halt short-term detentions, harassments and other repressive measures against human rights defenders and journalists and implement legal safeguards to ensure their protection against abuse of provisions for criminal

-- Take necessary measures to guarantee the rights to peaceful assembly and association in conformity with the law and the international standards.

-- Reduce government influence and control over the internet as part of a broader commitment to freedom of expression.

-- Put an end to online censorship.

-- Take steps to ensure the establishment of an unrestricted access to the internet for all, including by making use of the existing underwater high speed broadband cable.

Must-Read: Statement by Yris Perez Aguilera at U.N. Human Rights Council

Statement by Ms. Yris Perez Aguilera
UNHRC 24th Session, Cuba UPR
Geneva, Switzerland

My name is Yris Perez Aguilera. I am a human rights defender in Cuba, leading the Rosa Parks Women’s Movement for Civil Rights.

Paragraph 56 of the Stakeholders Summary cites to our submission on the Cuban government’s growing use of violence against women human rights defenders, along with arbitrary arrests and death threats. Importantly, on page 23 of today’s report, recommendations by the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Germany, and Hungary address these gross abuses.

Mr. President, it is in this regard that I have come to bear witness.

I have been the victim of aggression on the part of the Cuban authorities, especially by the agents Yuniel Monteagudo Reina and Eric Aquino Yera. They have beaten me into unconsciousness in the pavement, as took place most recently this past March 7 in Santa Clara. The hits to the head, neck, and back have caused me serious health problems that I have not been able to recover from. In addition to beating me, they have threatened me with death on various occasions, these agents have told me that they are going to rape me, and have shown their genitals during arbitrary arrests.

Because I am a black woman the cruelty has been worse, because the government that exists in Cuba is racist. At this moment Sonia Garro Alfonso remains in prison since March of 2012 in inhumane conditions and without trial. In October of 2011, Laura Pollán Toledo, leader of the Ladies in White died under suspicious conditions while under the custody of the political police in Havana.

Daysi Talavera Ortiz, an activist in Matanzas, died run over by a car in January of the same year. Women human rights defenders in Cuba suffer homes under siege, aggression against their young children, and the arbitrariness of the government that has remained in power for 54 years.

Soon I will return to Cuba. I ask the United Nations for protection for my life and the lives of thousands of human rights activists in Cuba today. The authorities in Havana should respond. Why do they murder and systematically violate the rights of citizens in Cuba?

Thank you.

Courtesy of Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter

Holy Cow! AP's Havana Bureau Does it Again

The AP's Havana bureau has made its way to the town of Picadura, Cuba, in order to break the following news:

Bovine quadruplets born on Cuba farm

Holy Cow! A Cuban dairy farmer says one of his cows has given birth to four healthy calves, a highly rare occurrence.

No joke.

Yet, for the last ten Sundays, The Ladies in White have been systemically targeted and attacked in the town of Colon -- and nada.

And, as we write, Afro-Cuban democracy leader Damaris Moya Portieles is locked in her home with her two small children in Santa Clara, while a Castro regime mob throws cement, feces and rocks at her windows and doors -- and nada.

Holy cow, indeed.

Bipartisan Reps. Question Visas for Castro's Art Traffickers

Thursday, September 19, 2013
The bipartisan delegation of Cuban-American Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and OFAC Director Adam Szubin questioning visas given to four Castro regime-affiliated art galleries to commercialize paintings and other artworks at the upcoming Houston Fine Art Fair.

Read the letter by U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Joe Garcia (D-FL) below:

Signed Letter - Szubin Kerry - Cuban galleries at Houston Art Fair - 9-17-13 REVISED

Cuba Keeps Coercing U.S. on Direct Mail

Direct mail to Cuba was authorized by Congress under the 1992 Cuba Democracy Act.

Since that time, there have been multiple direct talks with the Castro regime on this issue, to no avail.

The Castro regime has repeatedly sought to coerce the U.S. into unmerited bilateral talks, but has yet to allow direct mail from the U.S. to enter Cuba.

(Unmerited due to an American hostage being held in Cuba, weapons smuggling to North Korea and increased repression against its citizens.)

If they were serious about this issue, they would have permitted direct U.S. mail to enter Cuba long ago.

Yet, the U.S. keeps playing right along.

Speaking of Cuban mail, here's an instructive story this week from the United Kingdom (which surely can't the U.S. embargo's fault):

Cuba postcards take 28 months to get to UK

Life in the Caribbean generally does move at a slower pace than on our fair island.

But that was taken to extremes recently when a postcard from Cuba dropped through the door of a Joanna and David Read were delighted to have the unexpected mail from Havana, but also a tad puzzled.

The card, depicting a picture of the Hotel Inglaterra in Cuba's capital City, had been written by their neighbours, Jan and Richard Long, who had visited the country more than two years previously.

In spite of having the correct amount of stamp postage and airmail sticker, it seems that the Cuban postal system failed to deliver not just this card, but five others to family and friends, all of whom received their belated mail last Saturday - taking 28 months to get to the destinations in the UK.

After much amusement, the group has concluded they will never complain about the British postal system again, said Jan.

Imprisoned Labor Leader Begins Third Week of Hunger Strike

On September 4th, the Castro regime imprisoned independent labor leader Jorge Ramirez Calderon, a member of the Independent Labor Coalition of Cuba, for his peaceful opposition and organizing activities.

It has charged him with "disobedience, contempt and public disorder," and seeks (will) hand him a 5-10 year prison sentence.

Ramirez Calderon is being held in a punishment cell in the Guamajal prison near Santa Clara.

He has been on a hunger strike since his arrest 15 days ago.

Today on "From Washington al Mundo"

Cuban Catholic Church Wants "Political Reform" (But Not Elections)

In a pastoral letter this weekend, the upper echelons of Cuba's Catholic Church praised Raul Castro's policies and criticized U.S. policy.

No surprise there -- Cuba's Catholic Church always finds it easier to criticize democracies than dictatorships.

However, they finally seemed to call for political reform on the island:

"We believe an updating of national legislation of a political nature is indispensable, as has been occurring in the economic realm," the bishops said in their letter.

Not particularly comforting, as they're essentially calling for cosmetic "political" measures -- within the dictatorship -- to accompany the current cosmetic "economic" ones.

But then, a step forward:

"Cuba is called upon to be a plural society... There must be a right to diversity in terms of thought, creativity and the search for truth," the statement added.

Now we're talking.

Unfortunately, the very next day, the Church's spokesperson decided to take two steps back:

“It would be somewhat utopian to imagine elections in the short term, but at least that voices be heard that aren't just those affiliated to a specific line or that follow a strict official orientation.”

So that the dictatorship continues.

Who knew that 34 out of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere lived in a "utopian" world of elections?

Why not call for an end to the Castro regime's violent and repressive dictatorship or -- more diplomatically -- for the Cuban people to freely choose their leaders?

Wouldn't that be more consistent with Church doctrine and the view of natural law it embraces?

Or would that make Raul too upset?

Burma's Lady Meets Cuba's Courageous Ladies

During this week's Forum 2000 Foundation gathering in Prague, former Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (known as "The Lady") met some of Cuba's most prominent female democracy leaders.

Here's Suu Kyi with Generation Y blogger Yoani Sanchez:

And with the founder of Cuba's Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights, Yris Perez Aguilera:

Video: Watch Cuba and China Try to Silence Paya's Widow

Here's the video of the presentation of Ofelia Paya, widow of Cuban democracy leader Oswaldo Paya, at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, where she asked for an independent investigation of her husband's death.

Watch as Cuba and China try to (unsuccesfully) silence her.

Click below:

Tweet of the Week

Let's not forget that, for asking for exactly some of the same things he did [free elections and free speech], there have been and continue to be many people imprisoned in Cuba #RoberticoCarcasses 

Why Isn't Cuba Held to Same Moral Standard as McDonalds?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
By Victoria L. Henderson in The PanAmerican Post:

Why Isn’t Cuba Held to the Same Moral Standard as McDonald’s?

Castro Once Promised Workers 30% Share of Profits, Now Pays Doctors 7%

The Huffington Post recently ran a story that took aim at McDonald’s for paying just 17 per cent of its revenue to employees in wages and benefits. The article, which suggested that doubling worker pay at McDonald’s would add just 68 cents to the cost of a Big Mac, quickly circulated through the blogosphere, with critics framing the revenue-to-wage ratio as a clear example of corporate greed.

As it turns out, the story, written by a University of Kansas undergraduate student, was misleading since it excluded McDonald’s franchise stores, which employ the vast majority of McDonald’s employees. On average, fast food franchises pay about 30 to 35 per cent of revenue in labor costs.

Given the outrage prompted by the initial story, however, it is worth considering revenue-to-wage ratios in the socialist camp.

Andrés Oppenheimer reports that Cuba’s Marxist-Leninist regime receives the equivalent of USD $4,080 monthly from public coffers in Brasilia for each Cuban doctor serving in Brazil’s controversial Mais Medicos (More Doctors) program.

The Cuban government does not disclose how much of the revenue from its lucrative medical internationalism program goes to the doctors themselves. However, based on the testimony of Cuban doctors who have defected while working internationally the pay is estimated to average between USD $250 and $300 monthly, or about 7 per cent of the total Cuba receives from Brazil under the Mais Medicos program – a far cry from the 30 per cent share of profits that Fidel Castro proposed in his “revolutionary laws” of 1953.

While Cuban doctors serving internationally may receive only a fraction of the revenue generated by their labor, the remuneration is more than what they would receive in Cuba, where doctors often earn less than taxi drivers, who have access to foreign currency in the tourism industry.

The rapid expansion of the medical internationalism program, which now outstrips tourism as Cuba’s greatest source of revenue, has led to concerns over increased wait times and decreased quality of care in Cuba, reflecting the stagnation that occurs in planned economies, where markets cannot self-adjust to changes in supply and demand.

Polls show the vast majority of Brazilians support Mais Medicos. But the no-bid contract for the program, which was brokered by the Pan American Health Organization, is under scrutiny for possible violation of domestic and international labor codes. According to the National Federation of Brazilian Physicians, the Cuban doctors amount to slave labor. The Federation, itself a special interest lobby, has organized protests against the program, including shaming campaigns against the Cuban doctors.

Other critics of the program have ruffled feathers for arguing that Brazil is conspiring with a dictatorship. In his recent address to the Brazilian Congress, Carlos Rafael Jorge Jiménez, a Cuban doctor now living in Brazil who was expected to testify in support of Mais Medicos, harshly criticized the program, demanding to know why the Cuban doctors are not paid directly and why they cannot enter and leave Brazil at will, or apply for political asylum.

At the end of the day, Cuba’s medical internationalism program should be seen as a litmus test for the depth of “progressive” concern over both the revenue-to-wage ratio and labor issues more broadly.

If activists are correct to target the maquila industry in Mexico (as elsewhere) for paying double the minimum wage, for example, one wonders why these same activists have not raised concerns about the Mais Medicos program, under which Cuban doctors receive less than the mandated minimum wage of Brazil.

Similarly, if a fictitious 17 per cent revenue-to-wage ratio was deemed scandalous for McDonald’s, where is the outcry over a 7 per cent revenue-to-wage ratio for Cuban doctors?

Castro Should Not Get a Mulligan

By Rick Robinson in The Daily Caller:

The Legend of Bagger Castro

Ask anybody. It’s fun. It’s hard and you stand on green, green grass and it’s just you and the ball and there ain’t nobody to beat up on but yourself. Just like Mr. Newnan keeps hittin’ himself with the golf club when he gets angry. He’s broken his toe three times on account of it. It’s the only game I know that you can call a penalty on yourself, if you’re honest, which most people are. There just ain’t no other game like it.”

– Hardy Greaves, “The Legend of Bagger Vance”

If you love the game of golf, you’re likely familiar with this quote from “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” An avid golfer, I’ve watched this movie as often as my wife has seen The Bridges of Fried Green Tomatoes Colored Purple That Got Their Groove Back – or whatever that damn movie she made me watch the other night was called.

In “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” busted war hero Capt. Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon) looks to his mystical caddie Bagger Vance (Will Smith) to rediscover the swing that made him the golfing legend of Savannah, Georgia. Junuh faces his own demons as he plays an exhibition match against Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen.

In a mid-movie moment of classic foreshadowing, a young golf enthusiast named Hardy Greaves gives the aforementioned speech on why golf is so special.

Then, in the closing moments of the movie, Captain Junuh removes a twig of pine straw that causes his ball to move. When Junuh declares that he must call a penalty on himself on the last hole, the match is all but lost.

Despite his previous speech on the honesty of golfers, Hardy Greaves pleads for Junuh to ignore the infraction. “No one will ever know,” he says with tears in his eyes.

“I will, Hardy,” Junuh replies. “And so will you.”

The PGA and the Legend of Bagger Castro

I bring up this movie because those entrepreneurial Castro boys, Fidel and Raul, want to bring resort golf to Cuba.

And who can blame them? What with the low wages and sub-standard working conditions, Cuba is the perfect place for foreign tourists to experience 18 holes of politically repressed island links. And when the round is over a foursome can enjoy hand-rolled Cuban cigars not available at their local municipal course’s pro shop.

Due to long-standing U.S. economic sanctions against the Castro regime, the PGA of America could not develop a golf course in Cuba. The United Kingdom, however, has no such trade restrictions. So the British-based PGA, Ltd (of which the PGA of America is a member) went about selling the PGA brand to non-US developers for Cuba based resorts.

Think of your typical Tournament Players Club course, but with a Policia Nacional Revolucionaria for a starter and gun toting soldiers monitoring pace of play.

In March, 2011, Capitol Hill Cubans, an American based anti-Castro group that supports continuing current economic sanctions, called foul on an announced deal by blogging that the PGA was using its British brand to skirt US law. Rightfully, the PGA called a penalty on itself and the deal for an official PGA resort in Cuba fell through.

Now, according to an article in this week’s Miami Herald, 360 Vox Corp (formerly Leisure Canada) did what it could never do in Cuba – it filed a lawsuit against the PGA of America for allegedly influencing the collapse of the real estate development deal.

Congratulations Mr. Canadian Plaintiff, welcome to a country that allows grievances to be addressed in a proper judicial forum. People who allege undue influence under the Castro regime are routinely executed.

The Castro regime should not get a mulligan

There has been a great deal of discussion in recent years as to whether the sanctions against the Castro regime should be lifted. President Obama has brought the issue to a head by loosening certain ones and instructing the US Interest Section in Havana to turn its back on opposition rebels.

This case – and the action of the PGA of America – goes beyond that policy debate.

Had a PGA-branded golf course become reality in Cuba, most tourists would not think through the geographic locale of the name on the clubhouse door. In fact, because of the stature of the logo, I would suspect that most golfers would assume it was PGA of America behind the development.

In “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” when Captain Junuh is about to declare the penalty to his playing partners, Hardy Greaves argues that the rule about changing the position of the ball is stupid. Maybe. But if we allow it to be violated we’ll know. And so will the world.

U.S. Senators Meet Cuban Democracy Leader "Antunez"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
U.S. Senators Meet Cuban Democracy Leader "Antunez"

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) met with Cuban democracy activist Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez” today.

At the meeting, the senators and Antúnez discussed the growing strength and unity of the Cuban opposition, the need to overcome the information blockade that the Castro regime continues to impose on the Cuban people, and the ways in which the government continues to oppress, harass and discriminate against its own citizens. Antúnez also discussed his concerns that people to people travel provides money to the Castro regime, but does not offer U.S. citizens any real opportunities to engage with average Cuban citizens or members of the opposition.

“Antúnez is one of the bright lights of Cuba's democracy movement, and one of its most courageous leaders who deserves our continued support,” said Rubio. “The United States should stand on his side, along with all the Cuban people demanding their God-given freedoms.  America's role should be to provide Cuba's democracy movement with moral support, promote greater access to uncensored information among Cubans in the island, and deprive the Castro regime of funding for its repressive apparatus through misguided policies such as the 'people to people' program that encourages American tourism to this imprisoned island. I thank Antúnez for continuing to share his story with the world and encourage him to continue doing so, knowing that his efforts are destined to eventually result in a free Cuba. Knowing the Castro regime will want to punish Antúnez for this trip, it is critical that we monitor his eventual return to Cuba and demand his and his family's safety.”

“Antúnez personifies Cuban resiliency. He stands steadfast in the face of great opposition and is unwavering in the fight to bring democracy to Cuba,” said Menendez. “He has suffered torture and abuse, intimidation and imprisonment, was jailed and beaten for simply testifying from Cuba before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee via satellite, but Antúnez refuses to be silenced by the Castro regime. Antúnez is a powerful voice for freedom in Cuba and his dedication to this fight inspires all of us to work even harder to achieve our shared goal of restoring democracy for the Cuban people.”

“Mr. Antúnez wants Americans to know that human rights and basic freedoms still are being denied the people of Cuba,” said Nelson. “His visit to our country is meant to be a reminder that we must continue our efforts to bring democracy to the Cuban people.”

Cuba and China Try to Silence Paya's Widow

UN Clash: Cuba Overruled in Bid to Silence Widow of Dissident Oswaldo Paya

GENEVA – Cuba’s delegate to the UN Human Rights Council today interrupted testimony by the widow of famed Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, in a failed bid to block her from requesting an international inquiry into the death of her husband.

Ofelia Acevedo, who was invited to deliver testimony in the UNHRC plenary by UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization, was interrupted first by Cuba, which demanded that the Chair block her from speaking, and then by China, which supported Havana’s point of order.

But the U.S. immediately took the floor to defend UN Watch’s right to speak. The Chair effectively overruled Cuba’s objection by allowing Acevedo to continue her testimony.

“We commend the U.S. for being the only one today to defy Cuba’s bullying tactics and defend this courageous woman’s right to speak, and her right to find out whether the Castro regime killed her husband, a champion of non-violent reform who was Cuba’s Nelson Mandela,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Timed with Acevedo’s testimony, UN Watch formally presented an international petition to the UNHRC demanding an inquiry into Paya’s death, circulated today to all delegates as official UN document HRC/NGO/3 under the council’s agenda item on “human rights situations requiring the council’s attention.”

Signatories of UN Watch’s appeal include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, European Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott, Chinese dissident Yang Jianli, numerous former presidents, foreign ministers & ambassadors, MPs and human rights activists.

This is the first time that the demand for an inquiry into Paya’s death was published as an official UN document.

Cuban Religious Leaders Denounce Abuses During D.C. Visit

From Christian Today:

Cuban religious leaders arrive in Washington DC
Cuban pastor and blogger, Reverend Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso, arrived in Washington DC on Monday to begin a week of advocacy meetings with policy makers.

Reverend Lleonart is accompanied by his wife, Yoaxis Marcheco Suarez, who is also a prominent blogger, and former prisoner of conscience, Reverend Omar Gude Perez.

The visit of the three religious leaders is organised by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK based religious freedom organisation. The group plans to raise concerns about Cuba's deteriorating religious freedom situation.

This is linked to an overall increase in violations of human rights and government attacks on independent civil society leaders.

A CSW report published earlier this year showed a dramatic spike in documented religious freedom violations over the previous fifteen month period. According to the delegation, this trend has continued during 2013.

Reverend Lleonart, who is affiliated with the Cuban Western Baptist Convention, leads a Baptist church in the village of Taguayabon in Villa Clara Province. He also teaches at the seminary linked to the La Trinidad Baptist Church, in the provincial capital of Santa Clara.

He created the blog Cubano Confesante in 2010, and has written extensively about violations of religious freedom in Cuba. His wife, Yoaxis Marcheco, is also a frequent contributor. Reverend Lleonart's role in offering pastoral support to high profile dissidents, including Sakharov Prize winner, Guillermo Fariñas, has made him a regular target of government harassment, including arbitrary detention. The Western Baptist Convention has endorsed the visit of Reverend Lleonart to Washington, DC.

The third member of the delegation, Reverend Omar Gude Perez, received asylum in the United States (US) along with his family in early 2013. Reverend Gude is a national leader of the Apostolic Movement, a fast growing religious group which has been the target of an intense government crackdown.

The government has denied the group's attempts to register and its members have been subjected to harassment including arbitrary detention, loss of employment and fines. Reverend Gude was imprisoned on trumped up charges in 2008 and handed a 6 and a half year sentence.

He was granted conditional release in 2011, but prevented from leaving the country to accept an offer of asylum in the US until January 2013.

Cuban Intelligence Expands Presence in Venezuela

The Castro regime's talking points are that Cuban spies are defending their country from militant exile groups.

In the case of the Cuban Five (or Four), these exile groups were apparently nowhere to be found in Calle Ocho, so they tried to penetrate the U.S. Southern Command, McDill Air Force Base, Ft. Bragg and the other U.S. government facilities instead.

Thus, in reading the news item below, one can't help but wonder:

Who are Cuban spies defending themselves from in Venezuela?

(Pardon the sarcasm throughout.)

From El Universal:

Cuban G2 expands espionage campaign in Venezuela

The intelligence agency is focusing on communication services.

Havana has reinforced its spy network to watch not only members of the opposition and public figures in Venezuela, but according to one source, it is now also focusing on private communication services.

The objectives for Cuban intelligence in Venezuela "are the same as those 1999, concentrating on indoctrination, the gathering of information, preemptive strikes against both individuals and organizations in the opposition," said a source from Cuban intelligence who is connected to the operations but asked to remain anonymous.

"The hacking from Cuba of email accounts and other accounts belonging to the most prominent and effective opposition members" is one of the operations offered to Venezuela that Cuba is expanding.

Regime Seeks (Imposes) 10-Year Sentence for Female Dissident

Monday, September 16, 2013
The Castro regime revealed today that it will seek (impose) a 10-year prison sentence against Cuban democracy leader, Sonia Garro.

It will seek (impose) a 14-year prison sentence against her husband, Ramon Munoz.

Garro, a member of The Ladies in White pro-democracy movement, has been imprisoned by the Castro regime since March 18th, 2012.

In the wave of repression leading up to Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Cuba, Castro's secret police raider her home, shot her with rubber bullets and imprisoned her.

She has been repeatedly abused and beaten in the women's prison of El Guatao.  Her husband is being held in the infamous Combinado del Este prison.

We pray Pope Francis will not abandon Sonia Garro, as his predecessor did.

A Proposition for Cuba's Foreign News Bureaus

For the last ten Sundays, the Castro regime has been systematically targeting democracy activists in the town of Cardenas, Matanzas.

Week after week, we've seen images of The Ladies in White and dozens of other peaceful activists being harassed, beaten and arrested.

So here's a novel proposition:

How about sending a reporter to Cardenas next Sunday to report on these abuses?

Is that too much to ask?

Here are some pictures from this Sunday's repression.

1. Note the secret police official (on the right) waiving in the militias.

2. The militias (following orders) confront The Ladies in White.

3. Cuban democracy leader Ivan Hernandez Carrillo being arrested.

Performance Art for a Free Cuba in The Hague

Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado (known as "El Sexto") has undertaken the following performance exhibit at The Hague, where the Castro brothers should be judged for their crimes against the Cuban people.

Click below to watch:

Over 30 Cuban Dissidents Arrested in Police Raid

The Castro regime seems particularly concerned about the support Cuba's democracy activists are receiving from their neighbors.

From The Miami Herald:

More than 30 Cuban dissidents detained after raid

Cuban security agents detained more than 30 democracy activists and broke furniture and other items in a house where the dissidents were hosting a pig roast for their neighbors, dissidents said Monday.

"They broke everything, the bathroom, the television, the refrigerator," said Mileidis Maceo, owner of the home in the eastern town of Palmarito de Cauto, Cuba, and member of the dissident Patriotic Union of Cuba, or UNPACU. "They broke things just to break things."

Maceo said her husband, Yasmanis Magana Diaz, is one of the two people still detained after Sunday's raid. Police have said they will be charged with resisting the raid. The rest of the dissidents had been released by Sunday night.

About 30 members of UNPACU and the Ladies in White had gathered in Maceo's home to host the dinner when State Security agents and a police riot squad raided the home, said Jose Daniel Ferrer, executive secretary of UNPACU.

Neighbors have been very supportive of the democracy activists in recent months, and the dissidents had organized the pig roast as a "fraternal dinner, not a political event," to thank them, said Ferrer.

Police threw the pig on the floor, broke up or tipped over furniture, then punched, and carted off about 25 of the dissidents in the house, Ferrer said. They later arrested more than another 15 dissidents and neighbors as they arrived or watched the raid.

Security agents retreated when neighbors complained as they were about to detain a young man who had criticized the arrests as abusive but returned later with reinforcements, many of them members of the local Communist Party, Ferrer said.

About 20 of the detainees were later put aboard a bus and dropped off in remote spots, he added. All but two of the others were freed within the village by nightfall.

Former Spy: Cuban Espionage Seeks to Harm U.S. National Security

There's a great interview in Diario las Americas with Edgerton Ivor Levy, a former Cuban intelligence agent and member of the WASP Network of spies, who cooperated with the U.S. authorities to dismantle this infamous espionage ring.

While we always hear about the so-called "Cuba Five" -- the five members of the WASP Network who received the longest prison sentences -- there were over 27 suspected spies in the network.

Many successfully fled to Cuba and eluded arrest. Of those arrested, seven cooperated with the U.S. authorities and got shorter sentences.

In the interview, Ivor Levy explains the mission and objective of Castro's spies:
The real objective of Cuban espionage in the United States is to penetrate and influence the various spheres of government, the military, academia, the media and social organizations. The cases of Ana Belen Montes, the Cuban spy at the Pentagon, and the couple, Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers, who for 30 years gave State Department secrets to Havana, proves the determination of the regime to harm U.S. national security.

Quote of the Day

In Spain, we have to learn that, in the face of totalitarians, appeasement with dictators serves no purpose, as history has demonstrated since 1938 Munich with poor Chamberlain's useless idiocy. The only way to defend the interests of Spaniards and of freedom in the face of such dictators is to challenge them.
-- Esperanza Aguirre, former Spanish Minister and President of the Community of Madrid, criticizing the Spanish government's inaction regarding the death of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, ABC, 9/16/13

MH: Canadian Golf Project in Cuba Hits Snag

From The Miami Herald:

Canadian golf project in Cuba hits a snag

A Canadian real estate company planning a golf resort in Cuba has filed a $25.5million suit against the PGA of America in Palm Beach County, alleging that the group blocked its right to use the valuable brand on the island.

The firm, 360 Vox Corp., formerly Leisure Canada, claims it lost $20 million in anticipated profits, $5.5 million in feasibility studies, the $80,000 licensing fee it paid to the British-based PGA Ltd (PGAL), and other expenses.

Leisure Canada was one of 16 foreign companies that eagerly rushed to propose golf and marina resorts in Cuba after the government announced that it wanted to expand the island’s tourist offerings. None has started construction to date.

The lawsuit alleges that PGA of America, which represents teaching professionals and is not linked to the PGA Tour, pushed PGAL to cancel the license because of criticism, including from the blog Capitol Hill Cubans.

On March 14, 2011, Leisure Canada announced it had signed the licensing agreement with PGAL, which has the right to the PGA brand in Cuba, for the future use of names such as PGA Village Cuba and PGA National Golf Academy Cuba.

But three days later the blog “suggested that PGAL was using its British brand to ‘skirt sanctions’ ” imposed on Cuba by the half-century-old U.S. trade embargo, according to the lawsuit.

The following day, PGA of America, by far the largest and most powerful member of PGAL, disavowed any role in the Cuba project and four months later met with PGAL officials to discuss the Cuba licensing issue, the lawsuit noted.

“Succumbing to pressure from the PGA of America … on Dec. 18, 2012, PGAL sent 360 Vox a letter stating that it was terminating the agreement and would no longer agree to work with 360 Vox in Cuba,” according to the lawsuit.

“PGA of America strong-armed the PGA in England, that’s what they did,” said Glen H. Waldman, the lawyer who filed the 360 Vox lawsuit on Sept. 9 in Palm Beach County Court. “They caved, and my client is out millions of dollars.”

Leisure Canada, a publicly traded company, has launched several development projects in Cuba since the late 1990s and a subsidiary, Wilton Properties Ltd., has a joint venture in hotels with the Cuban government’s Grupo Hotelero Gran Caribe S.A.

In 2010, it announced it was updating its plans for a golf course, condos and marina in the fishing village of Jibacoa, on Cuba’s north coast about 50 miles east of Havana.

Mauricio Claver-Carone, of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee and who runs the Capitol Hill Cubans blog, wrote Friday that Leisure Canada has been talking about building golf resorts in Cuba since 1999 but has never begun construction.

“So why doesn’t Leisure Canada... sue the Castro regime?” he wrote. “Do business with a bloody dictatorship, and then seek relief in the good ol’ democratic U.S.A. when you get scammed.”

Cuba unleashed a frantic wave of interest from foreign developers in 2010 when word began to leak that it was considering approving foreign investments in golf and marina resorts. The communist-run island now has one 18-hole and one nine-hole course for the “bourgeoisie” sport.

But only four projects were reported in the summer of 2011 to be in the group that had finished negotiations with the government.

The Tourism Ministry has publicly mentioned final approval for only one of the four, The Carbonera Club, a $350 million project near Varadero beach east of Havana proposed by the British investment firm Esencia.

The three others were a Spanish project in Pinar del Rio province; a proposal in Holguin by Canada’s Standing Feather company; and a Bellomonte proposal by the British Coral Capital firm for a beach 15 miles east of Havana.

Bellomonte’s current standing is unclear because Coral Capital Executive Director Amado Fakhre and Chief of Operations Stephen Purvis were freed from a Cuban prison in June after two years under investigation for corruption.

Antunez at Georgetown University Today

Former Cuban political prisoner and democracy leader, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez", will be speaking at Georgetown University today.

See below for details.

Castro Retaliates Against Cuban Singer

Sunday, September 15, 2013
As we predicted yesterday, Cuban singer Roberto Caracasses has been "suspended indefinitely" from any professional activities by the Castro regime for his improvised lyrics calling for free speech and elections.

During a propaganda concert this week, orchestrated by the Castro regime and transmitted live nationally on behalf of four Cuban spies imprisoned in the U.S., Carcasses sang unscripted:

"I want to elect the president by direct vote and not some other way."

Obviously, that is impermissible and unforgivable for Cuba's totalitarian dictatorship.

Thus, two local performances Carcasses previously had scheduled this week in Havana were abruptly cancelled by the regime's Institute of Music, which must officially sanction all artists and performances in Cuba.

He awaits further punishment or the "option" of a forced mea culpa.

Image of the Week: Freedom Will Prevail

If you have any doubt that freedom will prevail in Cuba, just see the picture below:

Dalai Lama's Message to Cuban Democracy Activists

I usually describe the struggle between power of gun and power of truth. Short term power of gun is much more decisive and powerful. Long run power of truth much, much stronger. Some people who under difficult circumstances must keep your spirit, your hope, your determination and in some cases maybe little more patience... Sometimes, you see, difficult to move, but with firm belief the power of truth in the long run you will win and keep your willpower with some patience.
-- Dalai Lama, in response to a question by Cuban dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua on his message for those fighting for freedom on the island, Notes From Cuban Exile Quarter, 9/14/13

You can see the exchange below at the 2:03:44 mark: